Having traveled to 30 countries before he reached his college years, Skye Jethani understands the importance of having a broad perspective of Christianity.
“Growing up in a home with a diversity of culture, a diversity of faith and background, it wasn’t a homogenous environment, so I didn’t just fit right in to anything,” Jethani said. He added that his background made him question everything at an earlier age than most people.
His nickname alone shows his multi-ethnic background.
“His given name is Akash, a Hindi name that means sky. Reflecting his mixed heritage, his Norwegian grandfather is the source of his middle name, Charles,” according to his personal website skyejethani.com.
Growing up with parents of different religions, Jethani’s home was open to the exploration of faith.
“When you grow up in a homogenous [home] it is very dangerous to question things and your parents feel threatened when you question things,” he said, “but college is to help us ultimately do is disconnect and consider, ‘what do I think’ and, ‘what do I believe and, ‘why do I believe them,’ and it’s a process we all need to go through.”
Jethani said it makes sense that he conducted his undergraduate studies in history and comparative religion with a special focus on Islam.
“I learned North American evangelicalism is not the pinnacle of Christian expression- this was healthy for me as a kid to experience. I saw the way we practice our faith here is really no different than the way Islam and Hinduism worked in different countries.”
Jethani said that because of his travels, he was able to see what different branches of Christianity have in common “and ultimately it led me to what was uniquely different about the message of Christ.”
Channing Gallardo, a sophomore nursing major, enjoyed hearing Jethani in chapel as it inspired her to think deeply about how to relate to God.
“I think he shed a lot of light on a Christian culture that we really get wrapped up into, and took a minute to step back and question why we do certain things,” she said.
Jethani acknowledged, “A big problem in evangelicalism is that we emphasize that our value is in our effectiveness or in our usefulness, but there are ways to combat that, such as the discipline of the Sabbath.”
Gallardo said, “he was so different than a lot of the speakers, because we’ve had ones that say, ‘well my father was a preacher,’ but he had a great new outlook and worldview.”